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Founded in 1985, Philip J Milton & Company was incorporated in 1996 as a public limited company (Plc) with an authorised share capital of £1 Million.

Philip Milton's Latest Comments: 7 July 2018

Dear Friend

Wills

Following-on from my recent case noted ‘vulnerability’ an older friend called me recently. She didn’t know that we did Wills and wondered if a wait of seven weeks before receiving a draft of what was to be her very simple Will from one of the so-called leading local lawyers was acceptable or normal. I started by suggesting that any of us can be busy so that it shouldn’t happen but perhaps with holiday and so on it could be explained but then she noted she had called several times and not had messages returned (yes, the firm’s telephone went straight to a ‘we are busy do leave a message’ service) and she had been concerned and had to ask the simple question ‘what would happen if anything happened to me?’ Yes, she has been quite poorly.

I then explained about the choice of executors and she had arranged some friends to do that as she had ‘heard on the radio that appointing lawyers wasn’t the best thing’. I actually then quizzed her a little on her family and Will circumstances. She is single with children who are overseas and one who is in permanent care. I assumed she had been suggested to leave only a token amount to that one (perhaps) and a lump of money in Trust to provide an income (or discretionary capital access) and then for the capital to pass elsewhere or else it would all simply go to the State. No, the lawyer had not asked the questions and had not suggested that at all. She then mentioned that she had left a sum of money to the friends acting as executors but I suggested really she needed a professional one in her case and that one of the children should be appointed too (especially as core beneficiaries) to avoid the executors clamming-up after death and not cooperating with the beneficiaries (as so many (others) seem to do, taking-on some god-like and unchallengeable mantle when in post. So, they have to watch the costs of course but there is proportionality but so many are just so arrogant). The appointed child(ren) can always defer the work acting for the Estate to the professional at the time but who are the friends – what if they don’t want to act at the time and simply instruct a solicitor themselves (which they could do)? This leading local lawyer didn’t ask any questions so doesn’t know about the children’s circumstances, whether they are married and have grand-children, whether Inheritance Tax might be involved it seems either and whether things could be done ‘now’ about mitigating that. He didn’t mention likely fees for the Estate execution either and as most lawyers seem to levy these days, a flat percentage charge being added before a single piece of work starts. There could also be attorneyships involved now to consider too.

Anyway, funny thing is I am not a lawyer but why weren’t these quite basic considerations made and then, where is the efficiency of the draft Will anyway? Most of ‘this’ is not ‘legal work’ but basic common sense enhanced by practical experience. If you want a compassionate and common sense approach to your Will planning and executorship and trustee responsibilities, come and have a chat with us – all without obligation and cost for such a consultation. (Post script:- days later the lady made an appointment and called into the Office and has instructed us to prepare a draft Will and also Lasting Powers of Attorney for health and finance).

Gamblers Beware

The French authorities have fined a spread-betting entity €500,000 for misleading advertising in relation to this activity. First, I should say the activity the company offers is fine and very convenient for a number of reasons but that is not the point. I should love to see the fines rolled-out over here and applying to all forms of gambling let alone investing. So what was it all about? The firm was advertising the ‘high returns’ from the activity. However, when actual results were demanded, the authorities found that investors with them had made €100,000 in the period under question but others had LOST €1.2million.

So on that basis, just imagine if all the betting companies, National Lottery, spread-betting entities and so on had to publish their customers’ actual results….. the reality for the masses would suddenly hit home and the poster advertising and TV promotions would change pretty dramatically. Let’s hope that the UK regulators take heed? Sadly there are far too many people with gambling addictions. The regulations are inadequate and far too many people’s lives are being destroyed by the ease with which such gambling of all types can take place – at the end of the day, never forget – the Bank will always win….

Equitable Life

So this Company has decided to wind-up. I have commented many times upon its misleading sales’ claims and deceitful sales’ processes where it paid its sales’ staff colossal bonuses but didn’t call that ‘commission’. I commented upon how it could pay such high bonuses to policyholders because it didn’t provide for its guaranteed liabilities as other companies did, so policyholders could not be surprised if they had to shoulder the problem in the main. That was only fair. I have also not yet seen a single accountant or solicitor sued for the advice to clients where they happily endorsed the Society’s products in exchange for a nice meal or other favours – and charged a fee for the privilege but of course, many of them had policies as well! Equitable’s accounts were clear in that no reserves for these guarantees had been retained.

Anyway, the 300,000 remaining policyholders will now share a bonus of an average £6,000 as the surplus assets are distributed and the policies sold-off. There were 1.5million policyholders at the peak.

Now, should someone have stayed rather than have left? You would have had atrocious returns these many years since the problems arose but now have a bonus. I suppose the worst cases are those who may have only just encashed….

It does remind me of the value of long-term financial planning however. Sometimes you have to be very, very patient indeed. For Helen and I, despite abhorring the ‘with profit’ concept at the time as I flagged the misleading claims the industry was making (birds which came home sorely to roost), for us both I did buy the lowest regular premium policy with the longest maturity I could with a few mutual societies, hoping for the odd demutualisation and a special pay-out.

So whilst our policies are below average value our patience will now be rewarded. What long-term financial provisions have you made that took decades to come to fruition? And the lesson sometimes is – don’t let emotion drive your decisions and sometimes the very best investment to make is to buy some more of the very bad thing from which you have already suffered…. And to remember the same emotions because when ‘something’ is going too well it is likely to come to a shuddering halt at some point and reverse and the higher it is, the bigger it can fall. Well, for us the bonus will cover the cost of our summer vacation so thank you very much…. Patience is a virtue after all – do you have what it takes?!

Pension Transfers

More and more advisers with the special technical permission are withdrawing from the market, including some very large companies too. The latest one, Mattioli Wood, cites the excessive cost of insurance protection for its firm. I fear that some people will have transferred with a few ‘cheap’ bucket shops (or those which offered ‘free advice’ but then took hefty fees on a transfer (so ‘conditional’ selling which curiously was often the conclusion to the client!) may also well find that if there is a problem down the road there is also little protection as their ‘firm’ may have evaporated…. We are still providing advice and the general comment with such very low rates of interest (so sky-high transfer values) remains. We also see individual cases where it is imperative for the person to uplift the scheme benefits – eg marital status, health or so on but people do not appreciate how superannuation schemes undertake their calculations and fail to take account of such scenarios, simply benefiting from poor insurability compared to the ‘average’ ‘married’ individual with dependants.

Russia

It is always interesting when publicly some rebuke arises yet when it suits, things are very quiet… I am not making any judgements though there are some interesting facts about Russia. Clearly some shenanigans have been ongoing but as a Nation we rebuke publicly then support fully the World Cup where clearly the big winner on the global publicity stakes will be Mr Putin… ‘well, it’s not politics is it, it’s football…’ er um… I think that’s a great political statement and fantastic publicity and PR!

The EU takes 40% of its gas requirements from… Russia. Russia’s gas exports are up 8% on last year. The higher that energy prices rise (so gas and oil), then Russia does very nicely as it is such a large producer now. Its populace is not small either and is advancing in economic terms swiftly – there are 150million inhabitants and satisfactory politics assumed, we need to be thinking about how we can trade with them through the other side. Life isn’t all about the football even if ‘we’ seem quite content to compromise our haughty stances in the name of the beautiful game and for the benefit of our entertainment…!

Testimonials

Thank you JA from Scarborough for your comments to the latest eshots. We try our hardest! Apologies to all too if there are sometimes too many words but the enthusiasm takes-over…

However, it is always good to hear: “I'm pleased we have put our main investments in your hands. You have demonstrated a few times already that you know what you're doing with our money, unlike some advisers I've known.”

RISK WARNING
Stock market investments can offer income through the payment of dividends and interest and good opportunities for capital appreciation over the longer term. By this, generally we mean periods in excess of five years, preferably much longer. However, we can never promise you particular returns, especially in the short-term. At any point in time but especially in the short term, your capital could be worth less than the original amount invested as some of the selected holdings may fall in value, regardless of expectations at the time of acquisition. We may also invest in funds that hold overseas securities. The value of these investments may increase or decrease as a result of changes in currency exchange rates. Returns achieved in the past cannot be relied upon to be repeated.

To remind you, why do I send out occasional emails? Because everyone can save money. We have no connection with any companies mentioned and you have to make your own contacts and satisfy your own enquiries. What is in it for us? If we can prove that we are knowledgeable and that our service and advice have good value, then you might contact us for professional financial planning and investment help. You don’t have to do that though and there’s no charge for emails. If simply they save you money, then accept them with our compliments! However, you’ll know where we are!

If you have any queries of any form or indeed any subjects you think I could include, please contact me. I also refer you to our website www.miltonpj.net. We celebrated our thirtieth anniversary in 2015 and have been publishing a well-respected independent column in the local Paper for most of that time and free client newsletters as well.

Do not forget however the usual caveats – this is not ‘advice’ and you are encouraged to seek that before embarking upon any financial route involving investments, etc.

My best wishes

Philip J Milton DipFS CFPCM Chartered MCSI FPFS FCIB
Chartered Wealth Manager
Fellow Of The Personal Finance Society, Fellow Of The Chartered Institute Of Bankers

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate some areas mentioned on our web site including: Buy to Let Mortgages, Claims Management Activity, Taxation & Accountancy, Probate Administration and Will Writing.

Risk Warning - Stockmarket investments can offer income through the payment of dividends and interest and good opportunities for capital appreciation over the longer term. By this, generally we mean periods in excess of five years, preferably much longer. However, we can never promise you particular returns, especially in the short-term. At any point in time but especially in the short term, your capital could be worth less than the original amount invested as some of the selected holdings may fall in value, regardless of expectations at the time of acquisition. We may also invest in funds that hold overseas securities. The value of these investments may increase or decrease as a result of changes in currency exchange rates. Returns achieved in the past cannot be relied upon to be repeated.

Philip J Milton & Company Plc is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Philip J Milton & Company Plc is entered on the FCA register (http://www.fca.org.uk/register) under reference: 181768.
# Registered Office: Choweree House, 21 Boutport Street, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1RP
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